The United States’ ongoing support for Ukraine is likely to be a highlight of Biden’s speech, especially with Markarova joining the first lady as a guest for the second year in a row. Ukraine’s ambassador received a standing ovation at last year’s State of the Union, just days after Russia launched a war against Ukraine.
Politically motivated violence and extremism are sure to be the subject of Biden’s speech with Paul Pelosi on the guest list, following a violent home invasion by an intruder in the former House speaker’s husband’s home in the fall of 2022. Monterey Park is also on the White House guest list. California, Lunar New Year shooting survivor Brandon Say, who heroically stopped the gunman from launching a second attack.
The president is expected to discuss justice in policing, due to the presence of the parents of Tyre Nichols, a black man who died last month in Memphis after being beaten by police.
Several people on the guest list have been affected in some way by the bipartisan infrastructure legislation, including Saria Gwin-May, an ironworker and union member who will be working on repairs to a bridge in Kentucky that is receiving funding because of the law. Another guest, Deanna Branch, is working to build a lead-free community after her son suffered lead poisoning, an initiative that has provided funding for Biden’s infrastructure legislation.
Other White House guests highlighted important issues such as job growth, anti-inflation legislation, abortion, mental health, cancer and the fight against anti-Semitism. The first lady also invited U2 lead singer Bono, a well-known activist in the fight against HIV and AIDS.